Book Cover Crazy: My 1st #RomanceClassCovers Experience

#romanceclasscovers shoot day
THAT’S A WRAP! #romanceclasscovers 3.0 featured Fred Lo and Vanya Castor. Photo by Chi Yu Rodriguez. Styling by Alex V. Lapa. Overall coordination by Mina V. Esguerra. Additional, panggulo feels by Ana Tejano, Jay E. Tria, Tania Arpa, and yours truly.

“Aga-aga daming feelings!” -Lo, 2017

^ Now THAT is a pretty accurate description of what went down at the citruSnap studio last May 14, to be honest. There we were, six giddy authors (one of whom is also the photographer, the other, a book cover designer), two gorgeous models, and one badass stylist, trying our best to stay on our toes and be ~productive on a hot, Sunday morning. While this wasn’t the first time I got involved in a photo shoot, this was the first time I sponsored one for a personal project.

I wasn’t prepared. *insert sweating emoji here* Yes, even when I’ve saved a bunch of reference photos on my Pinterest board and sent it over to Mina to compile. Even when I had already outlined 2/3 of the book for which some of the photos will be shot. Even when I’ve rehearsed in my head what kind of direction I’d be giving Fred and Vanya so I can achieve the look I wanted. Nope. I wasn’t.

Two (or was it three) other photo sets were shot before Mina called out “ProjectPio” and I had to review the PPT slide she prepared. It had the photo references I sent her of the poses and clothes I wanted. While Fred and Vanya dressed up, I found myself staring at the gray cyclorama, looking at the slide, and staring back at the bare space again. How to do this, I thought. Which pose to do first?

It’s worth noting, by the way, that the directions we were giving Fred and Vanya were pretty hilarious and SO NOT professional level. They ranged from “(in this photo), you’re friends but you’re in love with her,” “you’re friends but he’s cute so you don’t just meet with him without putting on something cute” to “you are aware you’re handsome but she’s not impressed,” and “you’re supposed to be friends (in this shot), any lower (re: Vanya’s neckline) and you’re not friends anymore.”

We had a kick hearing ourselves spew out these comments, it’s a wonder we actually got anything decent done. Honestly, some of us were worried Fred was getting annoyed at all the ruckus we were making, given that he was running on only three hours of sleep, but he was such a good sport about everything. He even thought we were interesting creatures. LOL.

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It’s been a long while since I last directed anyone on anything, but I tried my best. It felt awkward because I personally didn’t know Fred and Vanya, and honestly, I felt like I could’ve done more (?) but I let my hiya get in the way. Not to say we didn’t get awesome photos, though. I saw some of the shots and I definitely know I could use a lot of them.

My thought process while my scenarios were being shot though:

  • Okay, this is nice. This is cute. This is definitely book cover material. (“Fred, can you smile a little? While looking at Vanya? Vanya, look away for this shot, yes, thanks.)
  • (“Okay now can you look at each other and smile? Yung hindi tipid.”) Oh dear god how cute. Cover material.
  • I’ll frame this in such a way that the text is above their heads.
  • Do I want to crop this out at a certain angle?
  • Multiple frames would be nice. Maybe like a film reel because Pio’s an actor anyway.
  • Movie poster style!
  • (“You’re holding hands, but you don’t want people to see so your faces should be a little patay-malisya.”) Shit how do I edit this photo? It’ll cover the whole page.
  • (“Fred, can you make a dyahe face?”) SHET ANG CUTE LETSE.
  • Title above their heads in this one, definitely. What do I use for the background, though? Hmmm.
  • (“Vanya, move your hand a little pa. Okay, that’s great. Can you both laugh?”) HOLY SHET ANG CUTE ANO NA ITO NA ITO NA TALAGA ‘TO GAIS PAPA-PREORDER NA KO BUKAS!

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  • I love Fred’s watch. I want it in my shot. Do I want it in my shot? Yes, I think it’s good. We’ll see.
  • What do I do with this photo. Oh. A bookmark would be perfect.

… and there were more when the other scenarios were being shot. Highlights of the day included:

  • Twitter exploding because of the teasers we posted during the shoot (Hello, Miki Bihon girls!)
  • Getting Vanya and Fred to record IG stories through the #romanceclass Instagram account
  • Getting Vanya to say hi to Brij HAHA <3 Loveya, girl.
  • Fred posting his own IG stories during the shoot
  • Fred wearing a white dress shirt and Chi, Tina, and me yelling “Christian!” (#MulaSaBuwan)

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  • Vanya’s updo look *______*
  • Fred wearing a national hockey team uniform (I’m still inggit, Mina!)
  • Vanya being musical while talking (SO. FRIGGIN’ CUTE!)
  • Vanya being all happy when she saw we bought her a tiny cheesecake for her birthday
  • Chi falling to the floor whenever she captures a gorgeous, nakakakilig shot
  • Alex offering her own directions to the models but stopping when she got lost in the Hot Dudes Reading IG account 😛
  • Explaining to Fred what the trope was for my shots and him realizing Pio didn’t get the girl in the book he live read during #AprilFeelsDay2017 (“Oh, it was Ramon… right?”) DIES I’M SORRY YES BUT YOUR–I MEAN PIO’S HEA IS ON ITS WAY!



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Since I’d been planning to sponsor a Gio Gahol-Gab Pangilinan shoot before Fred and Vanya happened, I think I’ll be able to do better when it’s their turn. Maybe it’s also because I’m more comfortable with Gio and Gab (haha), but we’ll see. I don’t necessarily have a book for them yet… but really, like that will even stop me from shelling out a bit of moolah for a #romanceclass shoot. 😛

Tara’s Takeaways
The #romanceclasscovers edition

  • It’s good to be prepared. If not emotionally (which is a challenge especially if you easily get kilig over good looking people), then at least be ready with everything else you need. Reference photos for poses and costumes/outfits help a lot. If you’re getting photos shot for a book cover, it will help if you already know what kind of story you’re writing, who your characters are, and what their personalities are like.

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  • We need music next time. HAHA. We didn’t have any that day. Or we did, but it was too soft because it was from a phone (and later on, we did away with it because the phones we had were used to takes BTS shots). I felt like some nice, theme-appropriate music would’ve contributed a bit more to the mood we were trying to achieve. That day, the only ~music in the room was the sound of our laughter. Which… wasn’t so bad, really. 😛
  • More back-up poses, please! I need to look up more, because after the shoot was done, I had a bajillion scenarios floating in my head and I was just like DAMN WHY DIDN’T WE TRY THAT EARLIER? Granted we did have to squeeze in a lot of different setups in the span of 3 hours, but still… sayang. But okay, I’ll look forward to the next one na lang. ^_^
  • Let’s do themed shoots. I’ve mentioned this to Mina before, about how we can experiment with themes/genres for photo shoots to 1) give authors more options, and 2) encourage authors to write certain things like sports romances. Or romances involving people of different occupations (doctors, engineers, maybe?). Our shoot with Fred and Vanya was sponsored by a couple of authors though, so most of the photos taken that day were already set for certain books, but I really hope we can do themed shoots someday because I feel like it’ll be a lot of fun! Not to mention I’ll be thrilled to see what kinds of books come when authors’ imaginations are fed with certain visuals. HEE~!

So there. I’mma tell myself I’ll be ready for the next shoot. Yes. But for now, I’ll return to my manuscript because Pio’s book is waiting to be finished. I need to paint a smile on Pio Alvez’s face, yanno. A really happy one, like this:

#romanceclasscovers fred lo
Hihi. Thank you, Chi, for this photo. I am in love with it like you don’t even know. Or wait, maybe you do. ^_^

#romanceclasscovers is a #romanceclass project that aims to offer more book cover options for Asian/Filipino authors and their stories. Visit the Instagram page for more details on how to purchase photos for your book/s or sponsor a photoshoot.

For inquiries, email

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